Local agency hopes to help those aging out of foster care

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - More than 23,000 children age out of the foster care system nationwide every year.

The National Foster Youth Institute reports that around 4,600 of those young adults will immediately become homeless because they have nowhere to go. Less than 3 percent receive a college degree and 50 percent of them develop some sort of addiction to drugs or alcohol.

The Center for Community Transformation, which works hand-in-hand with Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, is hoping to change some of those numbers by a variety of different programs.

The organization has a GED certification program, which graduates those who may not have been able to finish high school. It also offers a construction skills training course, which teaches basic craftsman skills that allows them to get jobs later down the line.

"I think it's important to realize when you think about foster care and youth aging out of that system, that youth is staying right here," said Patrick Johnson, Director of Operations for Youth Services. "So as a community, if we don't do something about that, that is our problem that is going to stay here. It's going to get more difficult to address after the fact. So let's take a look at what resources we need to put into place now, and what strategies and conversations we should be having to ensure that this community is as amazing as it can be."

November is also National Adoption Month. Right now, there are more than 123,000 children nationwide that are eligible for adoption but continue to stay within the foster care system.

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